I Write For A Living, And I Have The Shittiest Handwriting You’ll Ever See, And I Don’t Care » VSB

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I Write For A Living, And I Have The Shittiest Handwriting You’ll Ever See, And I Don’t Care

Between 10am and 10pm on Wednesday, I…

…wrote 500 or so words on a rapper who calls himself “Slim Jesus”

…edited and published a piece about a guy who’s a lawyer and an aspiring rapper

…wrote up a ranking of types of pork

…wrote several hundred words about James Blake’s arrest

…wrote 700 or so words for EBONY about Serena Williams and Black Twitter

…and finished rewriting and editing my page (“The Colored Section”) for the November issue of EBONY Magazine.

This was a busy day for me, but it wasn’t unusually busy. When you write for a living, you write for a living. Which is what I tell the people who reach out to VSB or me personally to “pick my brain” on how to be a writer and/or build something like VSB. A conversation that, 80% of the time, goes the exact same way.

Hey, I really love what you all are doing there at VSB. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, too. How do I go about doing this?

Thanks for reaching out! And thanks for the compliments! So you want to write for a living? Do you have a blog or anything like that now?”


Are you active on social media?

Not really.

When was the last time you actually wrote something?”

I wrote this email in 2009 that my coworkers said was really funny.

So you haven’t written anything in six years?


Not even in a private journal or notebook?


But you want me to teach you how to get people to pay you to write stuff?


Anyway, although my Wednesday was busy, it wasn’t a particularly difficult day. Basically, it wasn’t Monday. Which was one of the most difficult days of my adult life.

What happened on Monday that made it so hard? Well, I had to write out a few dozen thank you cards. And that shit broke my brain. Because I have the worst handwriting of any functional adult you will ever meet. I know using “retarded” isn’t quite politically correct. But that’s the best way to describe my writing. My writing is full retard. And when you combine this with my terrible, awful, hilarious, ridiculous, and bizarre attempts at spelling words correctly without using spellcheck, you end up with a night where it takes me 15 attempts and 45 minutes to properly and legibly write “Thank you for coming! We definitely appreciated your gift — the knives are great! — and we’re thankful for your love and support!” on a card.

Let me put it this way: That image I used for this piece? That’s not some random picture from Google. That’s my actual handwriting. And that’s with an effort. 

This isn’t a new development, by the way. It’s not like I had decent handwriting that got worse because I don’t have to write things out much anymore. I’ve had notoriously shitty handwriting since grade school. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get straight A’s everywhere else and a C minus in handwriting. I’ve always sucked as this. Partially because I seem to have issues holding pencils. I grip them like I’m about to shank a rabbit. But mainly because I never really gave a fuck. If my answers were right and my English papers were on point, who gave a damn about the aesthetic quality of my C’s? I sure as hell didn’t. It just felt — and still feels — like a useless skill to acquire. And now, as actually writing things out becomes more and more obsolete, I don’t have much incentive to get better. So my levels of sucktitude just get progressively worse by the year.

Still, I feel like I should feel worse about this. I mean, I’m a writer who can’t actually perform the physical act of writing. Isn’t that…wrong? What would happen to me if group of randomly specific aliens invaded Earth to steal all of our keyboards? I would be useless. And I’d have to actually get a real job. Yikes!

But, until that day comes, I’ll continue writing for a living. And I’ll continue scribbling so badly on thank you cards that The Wife Person™ just says “Just stop. I’ll finish. Go…do some pushups or something.”

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • laddibugg

    Oh yes. And I even went to Catholic school, thankfully after they stopped rapping you on the knuckles. I was a straight A student in everything except penmanship–always a C or lower, and one time I even got an F. Luckily it didn’t count towards Honor Roll.

  • TeeChantel

    I feel you. I had very nice handwriting in middle school and high school. However, growing up with word processors, typewriters and computers I type way more than I should and because of that my handwriting suffered. I would rate my handwriting one level above chicken scratch….and you can FORGET about writing in cursive. Handwriting does help me slow down my thoughts, though. Like, in college, when I REALLY wanted to memorize something, I would write it down. Writing it out helped me internalize the content better.



    • h.h.h.

      i actually do believe this, i wouldn’t be surprised if kids aren’t taught handwriting in schools, since communication can be accomplished without pen and ink these days (once you get past…7th grade)

      IMO there is something about the written word and for me, the actual act of writing something down is a better way for me to remember things. which is why even though my phone is a great planner, i still have paper planners that i use and i try to write in as much as possible.

      • TeeChantel

        I agree. With all things communication happening electronically, what do we need basic handwriting skills for and why? it is becoming a lost art. Sad. Other than jotting down my shopping list, or writing an check every blue moon, or taking meeting notes at work, I really can’t think of any other time when I write stuff down.

        This makes me think… I need to get back to keeping a journal.

  • StillSuga

    I have great print-like handwriting, but cursive? Does anyone under 30 write in cursive anymore? I gave up on cursive when I realized I could sign my name with a cursive like flourish and not get fined. But I had to try recently and I’d forgotten how certain letters connect and it looked like a fifth grader. SMH

    • Cursive was always a tedious practice, I cat believe they made us do that in school like it would easier for me to print and for you to read so why we doing this, B, what’s good Miley

      • rhymeswithbrucelee

        It’s easier and faster to write in cursive because you don’t have to lift your pencil from the paper 100 times per sentence

        • Did you really well actually me, beloved

    • rhymeswithbrucelee

      I just polled my sisters: we all write in cursive and we range from mid-20’s to early-30’s. I didn’t realize people didn’t write in cursive anymore. Next thing you know the yutes dem won’t be able to add or multiply. OH WAIT…..

      • TeeChantel

        “Next thing you know the yutes dem won’t be able to add or multiply.”
        Thank God we had those Math Minute exercises.

        • Math Minute exercises were stressful.

          • TeeChantel

            Indeed, they were. But I can do math in my head very quickly because of it. I’m not even sure if they still do Math Minute in school anymore.

          • PhlyyPhree

            I. LOVED THOSE!!
            I’m kind of a geek. I was also the captain for my Math Olympics team in 5th grade. Lol

    • cakes_and_pies

      Some cities stopped teaching it because it was eating into their testing time. Since checks are almost obsolete, people don’t really write letters, and almost everything is electronic, some felt there was no need for it.

      • miss t-lee

        My bestie said they really didn’t teach it at all. She had to do that.

        • cakes_and_pies

          That’s sad.

          • miss t-lee


  • miss t-lee

    Dayum Champie. That’s chicken scratch for real.

    My mother (RIP) was quite the taskmaster when it came to handwriting. She used to make me and my siblings practice our handwriting daily. I HATED that sh*t. However, I can’t help but smile now when I’m complimented on my handwriting. I still prefer writing over typing for certain things.
    Dudes with nice handwriting are always a surprise to me.

    • h.h.h.

      funny enough, it was my dad who made me practice my handwriting. i still have small notebooks from when i had to write out my words, or writing out passages to practice my handwriting.

      • miss t-lee

        That’s pretty awesome.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I can remember my dad yelling at me and making me practice my cursive a’s over and over and over… his complaint was that I made everything to “fancy and swirly”. To be fair, his handwriting is GORGEOUS though. Its almost Victorian looking, but it is very clean and efficient.

    • My mother would just watch me write with amazement, she just found the whole left hand thing weird

      • miss t-lee

        My mom was left handed. Only other left hander in the house was my sister.

  • Instagram SuperModel

    Why did you waste your time writing the same ish, when you could have typed it up, printed it out and pasted it onto the cards? Sentiment doesn’t change. You are still thankful. My penmanship game has been non-existent, since I learnt how to type. Writing physically requires God’s grace and mercies.

  • h.h.h.

    Good Grief, with that horrible handwriting, you should be a doctor

    • miss t-lee

      I thought that too.

  • h.h.h.

    You may be able to dunk on me, but imma show you how to stunt, fam.

    • Instagram SuperModel

      Your handwriting is adorable!

      • h.h.h.

        thank ya ma’am, blame my parents lol

    • TeeChantel

      Wow. That’s some sexy handwriting there.

    • Agatha Guilluame


      • h.h.h.

        you’re lovelier

  • celinad6

    Are these the thank you notes for your wedding? The one from over a year ago?

    • TeeChantel

      What’s the deadline for sending out TY notes? 6 weeks after the wedding?

      • Cleojonz

        You actually have up to a full year but I think most folks would still frown upon this practice. I’m still waiting for my bosses’ thank you cards from their wedding…14 years ago.

    • Must be a baby shower. The Alien cometh.

      • celinad6

        But knives for a baby shower?

        • Negroes + re-gifting = Knives

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Babies are allowed to shank.

  • If that address was actually legible I’d be worried.

  • I have nice handwriting, cuz I’m talented and do calligraphy n sh t

    • Instagram SuperModel


      • Last thing I wrote an Internet terrorist said it looks like I dot my eyes with hearts, I have yet to recover

        • Instagram SuperModel

          Well then your statement is just a claim.

          • Ironic considering the screen name

            • Instagram SuperModel

              Warr abourr irr? You want receipts too??

              • Yup

                • Instagram SuperModel

                  hehehehe!!!! mine exist in fantasy land.

        • h.h.h.

          i mean you’re a Patriot fan, so that slander was necessary in my opinion. Nice win though

          • It was almost too easy, people had the Steelers making noise but the secondary, is just… Yikes

        • AlwaysCC

          my brother once got a job because his handwriting on the application was so neat (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it). they didn’t believe that he actually filled out the application lol

        • miss t-lee

          I’m sorry, but this is fcukin’ hilarious.

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